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SNAP Recipients

What Happens When You’re a SNAP Recipient

By Chelsea KayPublished 7 years ago 3 min read
A picture I saw recently, the caption said, “What is the first thing that comes to mind.” Many of the responses were “food stamps.”

I am a single mother of a two year old boy that lives with other close family members. Every month we struggle to pay bills because I am the only one that is physically able to go to work. Because of this situation my family receives SNAP: supplemental nutrition assistance program, also known as food stamps.

This month I was able to buy more food for my family because my SNAP benefits increased. This month I was able to afford food other than ramen noodles, rice, and pasta. This month I was able to afford pork, chicken, seafood, and beef. Let me tell you about my first ever public humiliation with using my SNAP card.

Last week I went to Walmart so I could pick up the meat and seafood my family would need to survive this month, I prayed I was able to pick up what I needed for the entire month on what I had left after purchasing fruits, veggies, and other foods. I picked up everything I needed, this included one package of steak and a roast that would feed four people for two days (maybe), and headed to check out.

Of course this being Walmart, there was only one lane open that wasn’t self checkout or an express lane. I got behind the three people in line and waited for my turn to put my groceries on the belt.

As I was waiting for the cashier to ring everything up I hear, “Wow, steak and a pot roast? You must get food stamps.” I turned my head to see a woman staring at me in utter disgust.

Let me tell you how I felt in that moment. I was raging, I was embarrassed, and I wanted to cry. As a person with anxiety who already hates having to use food stamps because of the stereotype associated with them, I wanted to crawl in a hole. I felt so small in that moment. How dare someone make me feel inferior for needing help to ensure that my family is healthy and has food in their body to live.

Like I said previously, this was my first bad experience in public but I’ve had many online experiences on social media, Facebook specifically. Most of these experiences bash families who use SNAP to buy processed foods like in the picture above. But I’ve also seen people bashed buying meats like steak, fish, and shrimp.

Personally I’ve been humiliated online for buying ready made, warm food from deli sections in stores (that my state has permitted), meat, chips, even a birthday cake for my son. In my experience the only people who have a problem with food stamps are people who don’t need or use them.

My revelation? People don’t like it when you need help from the government to survive. Whether you buy healthy food or “junk” food, people are going to have a problem with it if you’re using the government's money, or as they like to say, “my tax dollars.”

My plea to people out there is to realize that situations differ from person to person and family to family. Not all people on SNAP misuse the system, are homeless, are jobless, or buy junk food. Some people have specific dietary needs that require them to buy certain foods over others. Most importantly, we all need to feed ourselves and our families. Also, no one wants to eat the same thing for multiple days in a row. People need variety in their diet.

So when you see something come up about recipients of SNAP, put yourself in their situation, keep your opinion to yourself and let people eat.

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    Chelsea KayWritten by Chelsea Kay

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